'57 Buick Shuts off

I have a 1957 buick, when I take it out for a drive it will run a few miles then the engine will cut off, I will pull over and let it sit for a couple of minutes and it will start and then repeat this cycle, what could be the culprit…fuel pump, coil, etc.? thanks for your help

Coil or condenser would be my first guess, but you need to verify if it has spark before replacing parts.


You may have the fuel line running too close to something hot so it vapor locks.


If you have been using pump gas with methanol your fuel system may be compromised. Any rubber fuel lines replace with alcohol compatible tubing. Have the carburetor rebuilt or replaced with alcohol compatible materials.
Love those nail heads. Please post a picture of your car and engine. 1957 was one of my favorite Buick’s.


To see if it is a fuel problem have a can of starter fluid with you and when it shuts down spray a small amount of the fluid into the intake to see if the engine reacts to that. If it doesn’t then look for a problem with the ignition system. If the fault is with the ignition then I would suspect something is heating up in the wiring, like a bad power connection to the coil, and that is causing the problem.

Right when it shuts off pull over somewhere safe and remove the gas cap. If it releases a vacuum the cap vent may be plugged. Try driving with the cap on loose to confirm.

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Is this a Special, Century, Super, or Roadmaster?

Yeah all the above. First thing is to check for spark when it stalls. Then you can rule in or out fuel. You can test the fuel pump by disconnecting the outlet and seeing how much gas pumps into a container. When I have had a fuel pump problem on that vintage though it has resulted in very poor acceleration and not stalling though. Another thing is to make sure the choke isn’t stuck closed and that the heat riser valve on the manifold is loose. Yeah gas today is not like the old days. You should use the non-oxy gas available at some stations for boats, etc. I supposed you could also have debris in the gas. Doesn’t that have the filter in the carb? Might want to check that.

If you can get it to where it consistently won’t start, the first test is to determine if the problem is no spark, or no fuel. I had a similar problem on my older truck a few months ago. I removed a spark plug wire and installed a spare spark plug on it,; and I used that spare plug to see if there was a spark or not during cranking. That test led me to a faulty set of ignition points, which I replaced, and truck is running fine again.

That reminds me, yeah coil and condenser with the points.

Vapor lock or a coil/condenser problem I would say. You need to check for a spark at the distributor cap when it dies.
Another less likely cause would be the ignition switch.

If he’s got a 4 barrel carb, it’s a Rochester 4gc, which had as it’s distinguishing feature separate fuel bowls for the primary and secondary sides. If one doesn’t regularly exercise the secondaries, the fuel in that bowl gets stale and bad things happen when one finally does get on the throttle.

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When working on GM cars of that era, I always discarded that little sinthered bronze filter in the carb inlet and put an inline filter in the fuel line. Gas with ethanol will vapor lock easier than gas without. Vapor lock is usually more of a summer problem.

You got a lot of good advice above. My bet is coil.

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Make mine the third vote for coil

@texases suggestion wont cost you anything so I’d start with that. Those old cars had vented gas caps, if you replaced it with a non vented cap, that would be your problem.


it is a special.

Ok, so it’s got a two barrel carburetor.

Please post back when you solve the problem.

Yeah it would be nice to know. The only thing I’ll add is that I know I have replaced a couple coils but the only coil that I ever had that was really bad was on my lawn mower, and that just failed out of the blue. I do have an old Motors book for that era and they did say that something like “while a coil can heat up and fail, it is rare”. So just saying that others more experienced may be correct but I suspect it might be something else.

Coil failure due to heat was not rare around here in the old days and the symptoms the OP posted were dead on.